Governor Culver signs law to protect Iowans against cigarette-ignited fires
May 24, 2007 (Des Moines, Ia. ) — With Governor Chet Culver’s signature this week, Iowahas joined a nationwide movement to prevent fire deaths, injuries, and property destruction by mandating the sale and manufacture of only fire-safe cigarettes. Such cigarettes are less likely to ignite clothing, bedding, or other material if left unattended.
“Cigarette-ignited fires are the leading cause of residential fire death,” said James M. Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), coordinator of the nationwide Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes. “With Governor Culver’s signature, we are one important step closer to requiring the tobacco companies to sell fire-safe cigarettes nationwide.”
“By requiring tobacco companies to sell only fire-safe cigarettes in Iowa, the legislature and Governor Culver will help to save lives throughout the state,” said Shannon. “This type of requirement is now in place in states all across the country.”
“We continue to ask tobacco companies to do the right thing and switch to fire-safe cigarettes without waiting for states to legislate such a simple, life-saving requirement,” said Shannon.
More than 36 percent of U.S.residents live in states where fire-safe cigarette laws have passed or are in effect. Iowa joins Kentucky, Utah, Oregon, New Jersey, Minnesota, Montana, and Marylandin approving a mandate this year. A bill in Alaskais awaiting signature by the governor.
Other states with fire-safe cigarette requirements are New York, Vermont, California, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.Seventeen other U.S.states have actively considered such legislation this year. Fire-safe cigarettes are mandated throughout all of Canada.
Between 700 and 900 people die per year in the U.S.as the result of fires caused by cigarettes according to NFPA. One quarter of those people killed – often including children and the elderly – are not the smoker.
The Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, officially launched in March 2006, includes fire service members; medical and public health practitioners; advocates for consumers, the elderly, and people with disabilities; and others. Coalition members are committed to saving lives and preventing injuries by reducing the threat of cigarette-ignited fires. The Coalition has asked tobacco companies to start selling fire-safe cigarettes nationwide and is working to see fire-safe cigarette legislation passed in every state.